By the time this is published I will be a mere 36 hours from touching down in Arizona, and getting ready to see a bevy of prospects over the coming week. I will even have the opportunity to check out the subject of this very article, though it will have to come on the back fields as he is nowhere near pro camp at the moment. You'll notice this is not a prospect comparison, as I am switching to a format that will more closely resemble what you'll see from Jason and I throughout the season. That format will consist of a (p)review of a prospect below the double-a level in one article and a look at someone closer to contributing in another article. I'll still do a comparison from time to time or if requested, but this is the type of content you will see from us throughout the year.
Kaleb Cowart - 3B - Angels - Drafted in the first round of 2010, Cowart has yet to progress beyond rookie ball. He accrued 26 at-bats between two affiliates in 2010 before returning to Orem of the Pioneer League in 2011. Though he started off like a house on fire (.545 in the first nine games), he cooled off considerably the rest of the way resulting in a .283/.345/.420 slash line. Look, no one here is going to be inspired by a line like that, especially given how it was propped up by his hot start, but Cowart has plenty of things in his favor too. A switch-hitter, Cowart has a more fluid swing from his natural right side, generating plus bat speed that allows him to drive the ball to all fields. From the left side Cowart has wraps his bat and doesn't move his hands as well. BaseballAmerica describes it as a "muscular, loopy swing", only one of which applies to yours truly. Despite having better tools from the right side, Cowart managed to hit better from the left side (.295) compared to the right (.247), highlighting the danger of putting too much stock into minor league statistics. He was able to produce power equally from both sides of the plate, though that was limited to a mere 22 extra base hits in 2011. Cowart projects to hit for plus power as he develops, though there are some flaws to his game too. He struck out 81 times in 283 at-bats (25.4%) and clearly needs to refine his approach at the plate. He did draw 25 walks (7.8%) which isn't a bad starting point, but he needs to cut down on his strikeouts either way. In the field, Cowart boasts a plus-plus arm at the hot corner, with many teams preferring him as a pitcher when he was drafted. While he shows good range due to his athleticism, he made an unsightly 16 errors over the course of the season, but has all the tools to stick at the position. Speed isn't a major part of his game, though he managed to swipe 11 bags in 15 tries.
Going forward, Cowart profiles as an above-average switch hitting third baseman, who can generate value both at the plate and in the field. My biggest concern for his future production is the rate at which he swing and misses (K rate of 25%), though I believe he has the ability to make the adjustments necessary to remedy that issue, at least enough to continue his ascent to the big leagues. I love his ability to drive the ball, and despite the dramatically different numbers I think Cowart's future is brighter than that of fellow Orem teammate Taylor Lindsey. He is likely four and possibly five years away, and is more of a full season at each level type of guy as opposed to someone who could move quickly. Once Cowart does start making more contact, his ability to hit the ball with authority will have him climbing up prospect lists.